I’m gonna dispense with the usual format for this one because it’ll just be easier.
Writer/director David Robert Mitchell decided to come up with a sorta new idea for a horror movie. It’s not quite The Thing or zombies or Lifeforce, it’s this combination of concepts that forms something we haven’t exactly seen before. And I’m totally all for that. If you can bring a new horror model to screen I’m very interested.
The problem is I don’t think what Mitchell came up with works very well. This thing, “it”, is too vague to get wrapped up in and excited about. Pretty much the only things we know are that “it" is passed from person to person through the act of sex (in other words an STD) and that only the people who have the, for lack of a better word, disease can see “it”. The form it takes is of a person, could even be someone you know, but most of the time it looks like a stranger.
There’s no way of killing “it”, which bothered me I have to say. To have this demon be a hundred percent unstoppable made for an unpleasant certain death march. The fate of the characters seemed so hopeless that it was kinda tedious to watch. All they can do is run and wait, run and wait, run and wait, etc.
I think I understand what Mitchell was thinking when he came up with this idea. It’s supposed to be scary because any random person on the street could be “it” and coming after you and you don’t even know it (presuming you’re sexually active). And the monster won’t stop until you’re dead. But the concept is too broad with no sinister edge to occupy your mind and/or cool looking creature to stimulate your eyes. What we have is a mindless killing machine with absolutely nothing behind it. It’s murdering without motive, passion or thought which is difficult to enjoy. I imagine this is supposed to mirror a disease but it feels contrived. Blowing up a disease to be human sized and still retain its attributes comes off as kinda dumb largely. I dunno.
Anyway, this is more of a character driven horror movie which I appreciate. However none of them are particularly interesting. I didn’t find myself being too invested in anyone which is bad considering you’re with this group of friends the entire time. Not only that but the acting is incredibly flat most of the time. They’re all so devoid of energy and emotion which adds to the tedium.
Oh, and that was another thing. I was so confused about the relationships they had with each other. Some were sisters, maybe a brother and a sister, maybe all friends, cousins? I didn’t know who these people were to each other and you need to know that when there are crushes, sex and past relationships be thrown around with the dialogue. In this specific area that’s some poor writing, editing or both.
The film is pretty to look at though with almost no shaky cam. The filmmakers took their time to set up their shots and made sure everything was very pleasing on a technical level. They also restrained themselves with the jump scares. There are a couple here but in the hands of other folks there could’ve been ten times more. So I’ll say thanks for trying to be smarter than that.
One more thing before I warp this up. The unidentifiable time period that the movie takes place in was extremely distracting. Most of the technology and look is from the 70’s/80’s but there’s a cell phone, an e-reader and some newer cars. I don’t know if this mix was intentional to make the movie feel timeless or if Mitchell wanted it to be set in the 70’s/80’s but for whatever reason pulled out at the last minute. Either way it annoyed the shit outta me. Pick a time period and stick with it please.
Overall this is kind of a slog. I know this got a ton of great reviews and a lot of people out there seem to like it a bunch, but I didn’t think it was that good. It all sounds fantastic on the surface: a new idea for a horror picture, mostly well shot and edited, almost no bullshit jump scares and a character driven story. But it just doesn’t come together. The biggest problem is the base premise of the film, on which you hang all of the other elements, really needed to be worked out more.
Honestly guys, I’d say this is a skipper.